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WHAT IS ECONOMICS?

Unlike history, mathematics, English and chemistry, economics is a subject that most students encounter only briefly sometimes not at all, before they begin college. Economics is a basic discipline, like those just listed, not an applied subject like accounting or drafting in which specific skills are taught.

Economics has some similarities to mathematics because logical reasoning and mathematical tools are used in it extensively. It also has some similarities to history because economics studies people as they interact in social groups.

Like chemistry, economics employs the scientific method, although some of economics has a descriptive rather than an analytical flavour. Finally, like English grammar, economics has a few simple rules and principles, but from these principles economics can derive many conclusions.

Economics is the science of making choices. Individuals must decide whether to study another hour or to go for a walk, whether to buy a six-pack of Pepsi or a 0,5 gallon of milk at the grocery, whether to choose fire fighting or teaching as an occupation and whether to play golf or to watch television for an afternoon of recreation. As a group, people must also choose through their governments whether to build a dam or to repair highways with their taxes, whether to invest money to business or to expand national parks.

The common element in all these decisions is that every choice involves a cost. (Reading this text means that you are not enjoying a bike ride).

In fact, economics is the study of the choice that people make and the actions that they take in order to make the best use of scarce resources in meeting their wants.

Economics is about the everyday life. How do we get our living? Why do we sometimes get more and sometimes less? Are we producing as efficiently as we could? Are we producing the right things? What are the right things? Who ought to decide this and why? The study of economics helps us to answer this sort of questions.

 

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THE SOIL | ECONOMIC SYSTEMS

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